I graduated from Oklahoma State University back in 1999. I received my Master of Arts degree there and I am a proud alumna. I studied technical theatre and not only learned a lot, but made some great friendships that continue to this day.
This afternoon we play our homecoming game. It will be bittersweet, as it will be our first homecoming game since we experienced the tragedy that happened at our homecoming parade last year. Actually, the one-year anniversary of that event was this past Monday, October 24. Sadly, four people were killed and 47 others were injured when a driver drove into a crowd of people watching the parade.
What makes that even worse, if that is at all possible, is that this was just the latest in what has been a string of tragedies at Oklahoma State. In November 2011, we lost our women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna, along with two others in an airplane crash while they were on a recruiting trip. Then, back in January 2001, an airplane crash killed ten people; two men’s basketball players, and six members of the coaching staff and OSU broadcasters. A beautiful memorial was built outside of Gallagher-Iba Arena in their honor called “Remember the Ten.”
The reason I am writing this blog post today is because I wanted to highlight the good things that I have found that has come out of these heart-breaking calamities. I wanted to focus on the love and light—the beauty from the ashes.
One of the first things I saw online after the car crash into the parade was a video posted on the Facebook page of Fox Sports Southwest. It shows OK State football players kneeling and praying before the game. People in Stillwater are good, God-loving people and they are not afraid to show it. #StillwaterStrong quickly became the hashtag marking their strength and outpouring of love and support.
Later that evening, Oklahoma State students gathered for a candlelight vigil and sang Amazing Grace. It was truly spectacular. The Pistols Firing Blog posted a video. Watch it. If you are like me, you will need a tissue!
Our biggest rival, the University of Oklahoma had their choir perform the Oklahoma State Alma Mater at their concert the next day. What a classy move.
The next weekend in our football game against Texas Tech, in College Station, the Red Raiders showed their support by sharing the #StillwaterStrong ribbon on the scoreboard.
Joshua Rogers wrote a great article on Fox News in their Opinion section. It is called Americans less religious? Don’t be fooled, believers are holding steady. The first picture you see is of OK State players and staff praying. It is a great article! Read it here.
ESPN writer, Jeremy Willis, posted a short blog on November 7, 2016 highlighting #StillwaterStrong: Cowboys’ community rallies, TCU shows support.
Then, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder went to the hospital to visit the homecoming victims. They scored a lot more than 3 points to those victims and their families.
Oh, and not to mention, all the great reactions and showing of support on social media. Kyle Boone features some of the players tweets on this blog post: Players React on Social Media Following Bedlam Loss.
I can’t tell you how much I love, love, love all of these things!!!
And, as I am typing this post, this year's homecoming parade is taking place. Stillwater’s first responders are serving as grand marshals of OSU Homecoming 2016: ‘A Cowboy Dream.’ The school wanted to do this as a show of respect for all their heroic actions at last year's parade. The school has also set up a beautiful online memorial to honor the lives Nash Lucas, Nikita Nakal, Bonnie Stone and Marvin Stone. I encourage you to go visit the page and take a few minutes to pray for their families.
So, while our hearts and minds will initially be reminded of last year’s tragedy, and tragedies past, we can choose to look on the bright side and see all the good will that it brought. I truly believe this is the best way to live our lives. We will always be #StillwaterStrong.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.